Technology on the brain


Annika Abraham, managing director EMEAA at Avinode Group, speaks exclusively to BAI about the evolving technology in business aviation, the company’s expanding customer offerings and her career to date.

Tell BAI about yourself and your role at Avinode.

I’ve worked at Avinode Group for seven years. I joined in 2011 as chief financial officer, but last year was promoted to managing director for the EMEAA region. In this role, I’m specifically responsible for Avinode and the associated market intelligence products in EMEAA and for driving revenue and tech development across all departments, including the delivery of our sales management system TripManager.

Although over seven years I’ve come to learn a lot about technology, Avinode Group and its products, my background is primarily in finance. I’m an authorized public accountant and gained my master’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. However, finance was not my first love – I’m passionate about the outdoors and spend most of my time outside of work sailing, mountain biking, skiing and hiking in the country around the small village where I live with my family.

What is Avinode working on this year?

Our focus this year is interconnectivity. We believe that by offering our members a connected, integrated set of solutions for air charter, this will enable them to drive their operational agility to fit the speed of today’s digital economy.

To this end, earlier this year we launched a suite of APIs (application programming interfaces) for our SchedAero charter sales and operations system. The APIs connect SchedAero to a company’s existing systems, so duplication of data entry is minimized as information held in SchedAero is shared automatically with a client’s other systems. The resulting efficiencies not only save time (and headaches!), but also minimize errors.

We’ve also been evolving our TripManager product for brokers. For example, we added a messaging and chat feature in both the app and desktop platforms after we noticed that younger, more tech-savvy brokers were often turning to social media or WhatsApp to secure a flight.

What are the key trends affecting the business aviation market at present?

New generations entering the business aviation industry – sometimes as travelers but more often as part of the workforce – are triggering a change in the market.

Millennials, but also their younger counterparts in generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2012), want the entire process of booking a charter flight to be digitized and are comfortable trialling cutting-edge technology. This accounts for the rising popularity of booking apps, such as those released by JetSmarter and PrivateFly, as well as fly-when-you-like membership packages.

The ability to be able to process an entire flight, from request to payment, on a mobile device is now expected. Although the personalization of the charter experience means that the human touch remains a large part of the process, the move to mobile, messaging apps and social media is a real turning point for an industry that has traditionally operated via phone and fax.

How do you think the market will progress in the next decade?

We’re not anticipating an overnight revolution in the industry, but the next 10 years will certainly see an evolution of business air charter. At Avinode, we’ll be looking closely at the development of a complete electronic booking process for business aviation flights.

The need to be able to personalize each element of a flight, from catering to crew, means that business aviation is far behind commercial in establishing an end-to-end automatic booking flow.

However, companies are now starting to recognize the value of data sharing, which means that we have increasing access to vast structured datasets. AI and machine learning-driven processes only work when we have access to huge amounts of structured data, so over the next 10 years, as more and more data is received, we expect to see these innovative technologies become the norm.

What does the next year hold for you?

We’ve had more conversations about technology in the last 12-18 months than we’ve had in the past 15 years at Avinode, which has exciting implications for our customers. We’re a data-driven business, and we leverage feedback from our members regarding their work processes and how they’d like to communicate, to ensure we’re developing in the right direction.

Over the next year, we’ll be launching more additions to Avinode’s services, to further enhance interconnectivity and the digitization of business air charter.

Avinode Group is a leading technology and data partner for the aviation industry. It consists of Avinode, a leading B2B web and API platform for buying and selling air charter; SchedAero, an aircraft and crew scheduling system; and PayNode, the world’s first online payment system developed for business aviation.

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Kirstie worked full-time on Business Airport International for over two years and is now a freelance journalist. Away from her writing commitments, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or training for her next charity run.

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